By Bob McEwen
Is it true that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people?
Is it true that when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn?
Is it true that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord?
If Scripture is not true, then Christian involvement doesn’t matter. However, if Scripture is true, then anyone with a heart for the hurting will want to follow its admonition to pursue righteousness.
Where can one go for righteous counsel and biblical answers to personal, family, and national needs?
If not the church, just where should a school board member, mayor, or congressman seek guidance? The academy? The news media? Hollywood? The local pub?
Yet, a growing number of pulpits are filled with graduates of certain seminaries who counsel followers of Christ to abandon cultural and civic engagement!
Fortunately, our founders understood otherwise, and the result is clear.
WHY GOD HAS BLESSED AMERICA
The 4 percent of people in the world who are privileged to call themselves Americans have been abundantly blessed. Each year they create more than one quarter of the world’s goods and services.
And with that wealth, America has blessed others as no other nation has ever done. Each year people of the United States produce nearly as many or more books, plays, symphonies, copyrights, and inventions as the rest of the world combined.
Before America’s Elisha Otis’s safety feature for elevators, there were no skyscrapers. American Willis Carrier’s air conditioner, the Wright Brothers’ airplane, the telephone, lightbulb, motion picture camera, the Internet, the Global Positioning System, personal computers, and the Windows operating system have lifted even the forsaken into modernity.
Americans generously secure the sea lanes essential for weaker nations to engage in commerce. They provide most—and many times, all—of the aid to struggling peoples suffering from blight or natural disaster.
Ultimately there are two worldviews: what man says and what God says. All subsequent decisions flow from the accepted worldview. Our nation’s forefathers chose to found America on what God says. They asserted that our rights did not come from government or even the majority. They acknowledged and so declared that our rights come from God.
That foundational principle is embedded in our national ethos, e pluribus unum—“out of many, one.”
This affirmation that each of us is equal in the eyes of God identified the premier right for all his creation, the right to life. No other nation has done this.
Immediately following the right to life is the right to liberty. The sequence is critical, as liberty is of precious little value if one is dead. There must first be life. Carved into Thomas Jefferson’s memorial is his assertion, “God who gave us life gave us liberty.”
America grew from that crucial starting point. Before our founding, slavery was ubiquitous. After it, anathema. Bible-believing politicians supported by America’s pulpits and pews began the example that abundance would come by replacing slavery and serfdom with private property and free enterprise.
In fact, try to identify any evil that has been overcome by Christians withdrawing from political action.
WHY THE RIGHTEOUS MUST NOT ABANDON OUR POSTS
It has often been said, “America is great because it is good.”
Historic examples are endless; I’ll mention just two:
1. Never has one nation had the capacity to overrun another that it didn’t do it. The single exception being the United States of America at the close of World War II.
2. Never has one nation sacrificed its own blood and treasure for the freedom of another and never asked anything in return, except the United States of America.
Because Bible-believing Christians have been active in our political leadership, the world looks to America as the reliable standard for right and wrong on the high seas, in the air, in banking, sanitation, communications, and sovereignty. Additionally, the United States is the lighthouse for the gospel. Each year, Americans give more than five times as much toward global evangelism as all the rest of the world.
Scripture tells us if one is to take a city, one must first bind the strong man. America is the world’s strong man. Weak nations depend on American power for their security. I have addressed official national prayer gatherings in more than two dozen countries. Their prayers always plead for the strength and righteousness of America. Their safety depends on it. Yet, they cannot select or direct our leaders. That privilege and responsibility rests in our hands. That duty is ours.
And now we hear those who claim to respect biblical teaching advising us not to “impose” or, more correctly, “preserve” that which fostered our blessings. They claim God isn’t interested in politics. Yet, of the 66 books in the Bible, every single one was written either by a political leader or about a political leader or to a political leader.
The goodness embedded in America’s culture, naturally, arouses opposition from evil’s advocates.
But in America, it is the individual, “We the People,” who are the sovereigns. Our freedoms cannot be stolen without our consent. If evil is to prosper, the righteous must abandon our posts. We sanctimoniously are told to focus on our church and family, even as our community and culture spiral into decadence. We are urged to emulate the German churchgoers in the time of the Holocaust, “Just sing a little louder to overcome the cries of victims in the passing trains on their way to the death camps.”
There is a popular saying, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” And we might add, not to vote is to vote.
WHY CHRIST FOLLOWERS MUST NOT FORSAKE OUR CIVIC INVOLVEMENT
On Palm Sunday 2020, one church’s believers were abiding by various restrictions a local government had placed on their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and peaceable assembly while listening to their pastor’s sermon on their car radios being broadcast via the church’s short-range transmitter. Yet they were fined hundreds of dollars just for parking in the church lot.
Americans ask, “How does this happen?” Well, I have a suggestion.
Too many of us have listened to those who have become skilled at misapplying Scripture to convince God’s children that it is noble to abandon the public square. They use such unquestionable truths as, “We must keep our eyes on Jesus,” “This world is not our home,” “Be not conformed to this world,” etc.
Indeed, those are proper admonitions for our spiritual life.
First Timothy 2:1, 2 states, “I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (New English Translation, author’s emphasis).
In order to lead quiet lives “in all godliness and dignity” we must first know who our local elected representatives are (city council, county commissioners, etc.) if we are to pray for them. And, you and I must register everyone in our churches to vote. Then we must run and serve.
We have been entrusted to live and serve in the only nation that could put men on the moon and hear them read to all the world, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Astronaut Buzz Aldrin even celebrated the Lord’s Supper on the surface of the moon in recognition of Christ shedding his blood for all mankind.
America is under attack because it is good.
Where would Israel be without its friend the United States? Who else would lead the world in the fight to end the tyranny of Hitler’s National Socialism and Japan’s barbarism, and then sacrifice to voluntarily rebuild those nations?
As President Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Abandoning civic involvement—which would result in the disappearance of godly standards in our schools, communities, and nation—would leave us with a generation that can’t tell right from wrong or a girl from a guy.
The apostle Paul, commenting on the collapsing Roman culture, said, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). Governments and people without a godly anchor will end up in chaos. Chaos destroys freedom and prosperity. If we care at all about justice and the poor, we must follow God’s direction and not today’s troubled theologians.
“This Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” said Founding Father John Adams. “It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports,” President George Washington wrote to the American people as his second term was coming to a close. “In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.”
Washington’s “Farewell Address,” as it has become known, was required reading for school children for more than 200 years.
Congressman Bob McEwen represented Ohio in the United States House of Representatives for six terms. He served as an elder in the Hillsboro (Ohio) Church of Christ and currently heads the Council for National Policy in Washington, D.C.